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Eric Peterson, Published March 26 2013

Ex-Spuds player watches alma mater Florida Gulf Coast enter national spotlight

Fargo - A Florida Gulf Coast University graduate, Kelsey Jacobson watched her alma mater upset Georgetown in the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament last Friday.

She just couldn’t bear to watch the whole game.

“This is really sad,” said Jacobson with a laugh. “I couldn’t watch the last five minutes or so. I was too nervous. I kind of had my head down. I was having someone kind of tell me the score as we went along.”

Jacobson, a Moorhead High School graduate, was part of another historic FGCU team. She was a senior on last season’s women’s team that advanced to the NCAA tournament, the first time the Eagles were eligible to make the NCAAs.

“It’s been crazy to see these kids that I’ve seen work so hard in the gym and have so many ups and downs to have such an incredible experience,” said Jacobson, who ended her career at Florida Gulf Coast with a school-record 330 career 3-pointers.

The FGCU men’s team has made a national mark this season, becoming the first No. 15 seed to make it to the Sweet 16. The Eagles play No. 3 seed Florida at 8:57 p.m. Friday in Arlington, Texas.

The school, located in Fort Myers, has an enrollment of about 12,000 students. Jacobson now lives and works in nearby Bonita Springs.

Jacobson attended about 10 men’s games at Alico Arena (the team’s home) this season. Jacobson also went to Monday night’s pep rally at a packed Alico.

“It’s a huge buzz,” said Jacobson, who finished her career at FGCU with 1,263 points. “The entire community is like totally supporting of FGCU.”

Jacobson watched the first two games FGCU won in this tournament on television with friends from the women’s team. She plans on heading to Texas for Friday’s game against Florida.

“It shocked the nation, but here in Fort Myers, we believe in them,” Jacobson said. “I’ve watched them play, and I think the community has seen them play with a tremendous amount of intensity and heart.”

The Eagles have become known nationally for their high-flying dunks and alley-oops. A FGCU “Dunk City” rap was made in the wake of the Georgetown upset. The song is a spinoff of Tyga’s “Rack City.”

“People are so observant of our alley-oops and dunks at the university, but they have been doing that all year and it’s based on chemistry,” Jacobson said. “Their team unity is unbelievable.”

FGCU was established in 1991. The university didn’t hold its first classes until 1997. Jacobson said her head coach told the team a story about how he lived in a trailer right outside of where Alico Arena was being built. The arena opened in the fall of 2002.

“It’s growing rapidly,” Jacobson said. “When I first got there, there were no stop lights on campus. Now, there are multiple stop lights.”

Jacobson gathered with friends at a sports bar near campus Sunday to watch FGCU’s victory against San Diego State.

“I just know at one point, they had 300 people on the wait list,” Jacobson said. “I felt pretty special having a table.”

While watching the men’s team has been fun for Jacobson, it still doesn’t compare to her experience last season.

“I know that I got really, really pumped up when we made the NCAA tournament last year,” she said. “I don’t know if that feeling can ever really be matched, because that was my own blood, sweat and tears into that.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com